The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) faces one of the world’s longest and most complex humanitarian crises, driven by decades of conflict and insecurity. The DRC has the largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Africa—nearly 6.9 million people as of October 2023—and the highest number of food-insecure people worldwide. Approximately 26.4 million people—more than 25 percent of the population—in the DRC faced acute food insecurity in 2023 as persistent conflict continues to disrupt crop cultivation, displace civilians, increase staple food prices, and weaken local markets, according to the UN. Recurrent outbreaks of cholera, Ebola virus disease, and measles, among other diseases, further exacerbate humanitarian needs among conflict-affected populations. Additionally, the DRC has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence (GBV) worldwide, with women and girls particularly at risk of commercial sexual exploitation, rape, and trafficking perpetrated by armed groups and other actors.
The situation in eastern DRC remains particularly volatile, with heightened violence in recent months contributing to increased humanitarian needs. Armed group attacks on civilians, combined with persistent clashes between the March 23 Movement (M23), other armed groups, and the Armed Forces of the DRC, have generated thousands of civilian casualties and displaced an estimated 1.6 million people in North Kivu Province since March 2022. The majority of those displaced—more than 60 percent of whom are children—are sheltering in overcrowded IDP sites with limited resources in and around North Kivu’s capital city of Goma and surrounding Nyiragongo Territory, where they remain in urgent need of food; health; protection; shelter; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); and other assistance. Frequent attacks by armed groups elsewhere in eastern DRC—particularly Ituri Province—also continue to cause civilian deaths, mass displacement, and exacerbate humanitarian needs. The growing presence of armed groups in Ituri, North Kivu, and other parts of eastern DRC has limited humanitarian access and hindered the delivery of vital assistance to conflict-affected populations, many of whom remain at high risk of protection violations, including arbitrary arrest, abduction, forced labor, and GBV. Despite access constraints, USAID partners continue to provide critical food, health, nutrition, protection, WASH, and other humanitarian assistance across the country, including in conflict-affected areas of eastern DRC.